CATH-204-01 Losing God? Secularization: Theory, History and Evidence
Fall for 2017-2018
Are we losing God? This course provides a review of current understandings of the theory, history, and empirical evidence for what is widely known as secularization. This has generally been understood as the process by which organized religion is weakened as a political, social, and cultural force in a society. The degree to which religion loses this role appears to vary by place, time, and faith. Often depicted theoretically as an evolutionary process that develops in a response to the Enlightenment/science, economic development, and/or modernization, the real world development of secularization appears to be much more uneven. There are periodic religious revivals that create reversals and it is rare for the conversion to be anything near complete. Committed atheists (as compared to agnostics or “nones”—those without a religious affiliation) are most often a minority throughout the world—even in places where states have sought to create a completely secular world. Predictions of the demise of religion are common in history. Why have these gone unfulfilled? At the same time clearly religion has often moved from the core of society and the state into the realm of the individual and personal periphery. What can we say about the future of religion today? Is more secularization or religious revival ahead? This course will review the theory, history, and evidence and provide points of view on these questions.
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